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The Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre is a facility in the Family and Community Medicine Program at Toronto Western Hospital. Equipped with an Acoustic Studio and Movement Assessment Studio with a sprung floor to aid in diagnosis and treatment. The Centre is the only clinic of its kind in Canada that specializes in serving the entire artistic community.
The Centre is an integrative outpatient clinic offering both medical and complementary care. Clinic services include acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, craniosacral therapy, registered massage therapy, MBCT group programs, naturopathic medicine, physiotherapy, psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and shiatsu therapy. There is also a Nurse Practitioner to care for all patients and access to a family physician.
The Centre’s team specializes in addressing the specific healthcare needs of artists providing a holistic approach to health within an evidence-based framework. Our patients include students and staff of post-secondary arts institutions and professional creative and performing artists of all ages. Through the Joysanne Sidimus Fund, services are subsidized for artists in financial need so they only pay a small fraction of the cost.
Welcome to the Al & Malka Green Artists' Health Centre
Our vision is to have a positive impact on the overall health and wellbeing of professional creative and performing artists.
Our mission is to advance local, national and international standards of excellence in health care for professional artists through our activity in:
The Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre recognizes that professional creative and performing artists belong to a unique occupational group. As such, their health concerns are often specific to their profession and to their particular emotional and socio-economic circumstances. At the Centre, professional artists have access to quality healthcare professionals who value health promotion and education. As such, our healthcare providers work in partnership with artists to identify and address their health care needs.
*Treatments are fee-for-service as they are not covered by OHIP. Please refer to our
current fee schedule.
All patients who miss appointments and/or cancel with less than 24 hours notice will be required to pay the full-fee for their appointment. If you need to reschedule or cancel an appointment please contact Rita at 416 603 5263.
Learn more about what you can expect when you have a clinic appointment.
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We specialize in addressing the specific health care needs of artists, providing a holistic and collaborative approach to health. We are a clinic designed for artists, to help you continue creating. We are health care providers, shiatsu and massage therapists, chiropractors, psychotherapists and physiotherapists. We listen, we diagnose, we support and we heal.
Executive Director, Family Health Team: Teri Arany
Dr. Chase Everett McMurren is a psychotherapist and the medical director at the Artists’ Health Centre, a home-visiting physician for long-living elders who are homebound, and a faculty member in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.Dr. McMurren believes that a person-centred, integrative approach to psychotherapy is central in helping artists explore and release patterns that seem to get in the way of living and practicing well.In addition to training at the Mount Sinai Psychotherapy Institute, Dr. McMurren has also trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and completed restorative yoga teacher training.To keep musically active, Dr. McMurren is currently studying harp therapy and is using it as an opportunity to learn and apply the Alexander Technique.
Matt (he/him) is a registered social worker, having completed his Master of Social Work degree in 2013. He has a background in theatre, circus, and dance, and is passionate about supporting the mental health of artists.Matt is trained in a variety of therapeutic models including Internal Family Systems, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, and Mindfulness. He believes in the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment to process experiences, heal and grow.Matt is passionate about teaching, and regularly offers mental health educational workshops to arts-based organizations.The Artists' Health Centre is a perfect fusion of his two passions: the arts and healthcare. He is honoured to be a part of a team that works to keep our artists healthy.
Clinical Clerical Support
Rita Aurelio has been working in health care for the past 20 years. She began in the Purchasing Department at the Doctors Hospital, and has worked with in-patients in the Medical Day Unit, on patient care floors, and the Pain Management Clinic. In 1998 when the Doctors Hospital closed, its ambulatory programs were transferred to the Toronto Western Hospital and Rita moved from the Pain Management Clinic to the Seniors Wellness Clinic. She has been with the Chiropody Clinic and the Artists' Health Centre since 2002.Rita enjoys dealing with clients from all walks of life. Her trade mark is her wonderful sense of humour, contagious laughter and collaborative team work spirit. She is the proud mother of two boys.
Leisa Bellmore is a shiatsu therapist, speaker and researcher who has been part of the integrative team at the Artists’ Health Centre since 2010. She has been practicing Namikoshi shiatsu since 2001, having graduated with honours from Toronto’s Shiatsu Academy of Tokyo 2200-hour program.A key element of Leisa’s practice is education, for other healthcare providers, the public and her patients. She has presented and published across Canada and internationally. Leisa believes that we all must take an active role in our health. She particularly enjoys helping to enhance health awareness so that her patients may overcome the stresses and strains on their bodies and minds, allowing them to perform at their peak.Leisa is a Past President of Natural Health Practitioners of Canada and a long-time volunteer at Ronald McDonald House Toronto, where she has gained valuable clinical experience working with severe stress and serious pediatric illnesses.Leisa has been a co-investigator on several research studies on shiatsu and is currently completing an MSc in Complementary Medicine Research. Her professional interests include neurological conditions and self-management interventions for chronic conditions. In her spare time she enjoys rock-climbing, travelling and improving her Spanish and French.As Leisa's first career was in theatre, she has a great respect and love for the arts and an understanding of the commitment and discipline they require.
Dr. Jean-Jacques Dugoua, or Dr. JJ as he is affectionately known, is a licensed naturopathic doctor and the first ND to practice at the Toronto Western Hospital as well as the Artists' Health Centre, where he practices naturopathic medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture and herbal medicine. Dr. JJ has given a number of workshops throughout Ontario specifically focused on artists and their health care, and has given presentations internationally, including the World Health Organization in Washington DC. He is also a researcher at the Motherisk Program at the Hospital for Sick Children and the Clinic Director of the Liberty Clinic in downtown Toronto.Dr. JJ is a co-author of "Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy and Lactation – An Evidence-based Approach First Edition" (Taylor & Francis, 2006), which is a collection of 75 systematic reviews, and he has over a dozen peer-reviewed scientific publications published or in press. A leading expert on natural health products, pharmacology and pregnancy safety, Dr. JJ is currently working on his PhD in Pharmacy Sciences at the University of Toronto. As part of his PhD research, he continues to investigate the safety of natural products during pregnancy and lactation at Hospital for Sick Children and is currently conducting a clinical trial on the effects of cinnamon on type 2 diabetes at the Toronto Western Hospital.
Vicki Hawkins completed her Physiotherapy degree at University of Toronto. Previously she obtained an honours degree in Kinesiology with a Certificate in Sport Therapy and a Certificate in Fitness Assessment at York University. She is a member of the Women's Health Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. She is also a member of IADMS (International Association of Dance Medicine and Science) and PAMA (Performing Arts Medicine Association). She has been a Clinical Instructor with the University of Toronto, Department of Physiotherapy since 2003 and held a Status-only Appointment with the University of Toronto from 2009 until 2015.She has completed a variety of continuing education courses including Manual Therapy, Muscle Energy, Scoliosis, the Pelvis, Pole Walking, and Yoga Therapy. She has worked with members of the University of Toronto Music Program, York University Dance, Theatre & Music Programs, the Ryerson University Dance Program, OCAD University, Humber College Music Program, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Canadian Opera Company, Canada's National Ballet School, Toronto Dance Theatre, Ballet Creole, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Opera Atelier, and a variety of television and film programs. She also worked with the Mirvish musical, A Chorus Line.In 2010, Vicki completed her Level 1 certification as a GYROTONIC® Trainer. In 2011, she completed her Level 1 certification as a GYROKINESIS® Trainer. The GYROTONIC® exercises are used alone or in conjunction with treatment to help her clients achieve optimum wellness.Vicki ‘s interest in becoming a therapist for artists began as a student at The School for Toronto Dance Theatre and the University of Calgary Dance Program.
GYROTONIC and GYROKINESIS are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with permission.
Registered Massage Therapist
Having grown up on a skateboard, Adam is no stranger to the aches and pains that can sideline an active lifestyle. Following a shoulder injury that kept him away from tennis, he experienced firsthand the positive effects rehabilitative therapies can have. He became passionate about massage therapy soon after.A graduate of the Sutherland-Chan School and Teaching Clinic, Adam aims to work with his patients to provide the highest level of care and well-being through restorative treatments and patient education.With over a decade of experience in Toronto as a working artist and photographer, Adam is acutely aware of the benefits massage therapy can have for those leading a busy and stressful work life, and aims to promote a sense of calm and wellness in all of his treatments.
Massage Therapy & Psychotherapy
Susan offers Psychodynamic and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, to build tools and strategies to be effective and successful, and to repair wounds in the psyche and soma. She also offers Couple’s Therapy to help couples be able to communicate more effectively with each other.She also offers Swedish Massage Therapy to focus on restoring function and relieving tension in the muscles.
Chiropractor – offering Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Craniosacral Therapy
Anita Shack DC, BFA (Dance), is a Toronto based Chiropractor who uses Chiropractic, Acupuncture, and Craniosacral Therapy to facilitate change and wellness for her patients. She is in both private practice and the Chiropractor at the Al and Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre at the Toronto Western Hospital. She is a published researcher and international speaker and teacher. She explores holistic context in her work and her workshops that are designed to increase personal awareness leading to improved health on multiple levels.Dr. Shack has extensive experience working with artists from many disciplines including dance, theatre, music, visual arts, film, writing, photography, and others. She is a member of the Preforming Arts Medicine Association and Healthy Dancer Canada. She is sensitive to the specific stresses and sensibilities of artists.Dr. Shack draws on her expertise as a health care practitioner for over 30 years, her varied life experience, and her over 25 year study of earth based and spiritual healing paradigms. She creatively weaves knowledge from these ancient traditions, and evidence based science into experiential workshops. She is an insightful and caring teacher, creating safe and supportive environments to facilitate learning, change, and healing.
Nishta Saxena has been working as a registered dietitian in the public and private sectors since 2005. Her expertise includes paediatric nutrition, along with chronic disease prevention and management.A frequently invited speaker at conferences, she presents up-to-date clinical nutrition concepts to physicians and the general public. Nishta is also a food and nutrition expert with Global National News, and makes regular contributions to CTV Your Morning, the Globe and Mail, CBC.ca and UHN News.
Paul Uy (MD, RCPSC, BHSc) is a physician who completed his psychiatric training at the University of Toronto. He has trained in a number of therapeutic modalities from psychodynamic psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy, group therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy and mindfulness therapies. He also travels, practices yoga and writes poetry.Paul's eclectic interest in various therapies emerged partly from a lifelong interest in writing, particularly poetry. He appreciates the many links between psychotherapy and the arts - how one can inform the other in harnessing physicality, intuition and community for healing and meaning. He values the role of art in society in cultivating immediacy, curiosity and creativity in a highly complex and interconnected world.
Shelly-Anne Li is the research program lead at the Al & Malka Green Artists' Health Centre (AHC). She identifies, oversees and conducts research activities that are in accordance with the values and missions of the AHC. Shelly-Anne is in the final year of her PhD in Health Systems Research at the University of Toronto, and has completed her MSc in Health Research Methodology at McMaster University. She specializes in research design and methods, program evaluation, as well as implementation and knowledge translation of evidence-based practices. With over over six years of experience in leading health research projects, she published numerous peer-reviewed articles and shared her findings at national and international conferences. Her vision is to use research to improve the health and well-being of professional artists, and to educate health care professionals and their greater community. To meet the many unique health needs of professional artists, Shelly-Anne aims to implement evidence-based practices that have lasting, positive impact on their health and well-being.
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting ultra fine needles into specific points of energy that are located along 14 meridians or channels that cover the entire body. There are 365 classical acupuncture points associated with the 14 meridians. These points and meridians, mapped out millennia ago and confirmed by consistent practice have show that skillful insertion and manipulation of specific points will produce predictable results in the body.
Chiropractic is an evidence-informed, non-invasive, hands-on health care discipline that focuses on the musculoskeletal system.
Chiropractors practice primarily using their hands, providing diagnosis, treatment and preventive care for disorders related to the spine, pelvis, nervous system and joints.
Chiropractors use a combination of treatments, depending on the specific needs of the individual patient. After taking a history, performing an examination and establishing a diagnosis, a chiropractor can develop and carry out a comprehensive treatment/management plan, recommend therapeutic exercise and other non-invasive therapies, and provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counselling.
Registered dietitians are health care professionals who are trained to provide advice and counselling about diet, food and nutrition. They use the best available evidence coupled with good judgment about the client’s or communities’ unique values and circumstances to determine guidance and recommendations.
Dietitians help people make healthy food choices, separating fact from fiction and distinguishing healthy eating plans from those that don’t provide optimal nourishment. Dietitians play a major role in health care, industry, government and education. They influence policy development, direct nutrition programs, manage quality food services and conduct nutrition research.
Also called CST, or cranial osteopathy, it is a gentle, non-invasive, hands-on technique, developed by an American osteopathic physician almost one hundred years ago.
CST theory and practice is based on understanding the continuous subtle movements of the cranial bones, which result in a rhythm of approximately six to twelve cycles per minute. This rhythm is understood as a response to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fluctuations within the spinal cord and brain environment. The subtle movement extends outward to the entire body, in response to the fluid pressure changes around the Central Nervous System.
A therapist gently works with the whole body including the spine and the skull, and its cranial sutures, diaphragms, and fascia. By using the hands as fine discriminating tools, Craniosacral therapists are able to detect disturbances in the cranial sacral rhythm to help them identify areas of dysfunction, such as cranial, sutural, membrane and other soft tissue restrictions in the body.
Patients remain clothed during a treatment and treatments generally are one hour.
EARS is our community drop-in acupuncture program which involves the gentle placement of up to 5 small, sterilized disposable needles into specific sites on each ear. Participants sit quietly in a group setting for 30 – 45 minutes allowing the treatment to take effect. The program runs on Tuesdays from 7:15 pm – 8:15 pm.
Emotion-Focused Mindfulness (EFM) is a way of developing self-compassionate awareness through mindfulness. Using principles from Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) and Recollective Awareness Meditation, practicing EFM helps cultivate tolerance and curiosity for the present moment – including thoughts and emotions alongside physical experience.
Emotion-Focused Mindfulness highlights a mindful awareness practice that can help us better navigate emotions in meditation, decreasing suffering, increasing happiness, and empowering us to live more deeply valued lives. Rather than feeling better, the emphasis is on getting better at feeling so that our feelings help us to better navigate our lives.
The Narrative Group is a creative opportunity for artists who share an interest in writing and the discussion of writing. Learning how to write your own stories and sharing them with others in a confidential setting may foster emotional resilience through the coherence that comes from having words for your own life. It may develop creative problem-solving and allow you to find a greater sense of meaning as you navigate your life with your artistic practice and beyond.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease. Symptoms of disease are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body, and unfavourable lifestyle habits. Naturopathic Medicine emphasizes disease as a process rather than as an entity.
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) in primary care can function both autonomously and collaboratively in primary care settings. NPs can initiate treatments, diagnose diseases, disorders and conditions; prescribe medications, and order lab tests, x-rays and other diagnostic tests within their statutory and regulatory standards. NPs are able to provide comprehensive care within a collaborative team.
Physiotherapy is treatment to restore, maintain, and make the most of a patient’s mobility, function and well-being. Physiotherapy helps through physical rehabilitation, injury prevention, and health and fitness. Physiotherapists get you involved in your own recovery.
This innovative 7 session psychotherapeutic programme integrates restorative yoga, self-compassion skills, and mind-body medicine to cultivate resilience in artists and cultural workers. The Practicum is led by Dr. Chase McMurren, Medical Director, Psychotherapist and Restorative Yoga Teacher, who also designed the programme.
Each week you will participate in:
While participating in the practicum is covered by OHIP, an $80 deposit is required. The fee will be refunded if you attend all sessions.
Psychotherapy is primarily a talk-based therapy and is intended to help people improve and maintain their mental health and well-being. Registered Psychotherapists work with individuals, couples and families in individual and group settings. Psychotherapy occurs when the psychotherapist and client enter into a psychotherapeutic relationship where both work together to bring about positive change in the client’s thinking, feeling, behaviour and social functioning. Individuals usually seek psychotherapy when they have thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviours that are adversely affecting their day-to-day lives, relationships and the ability to enjoy life.
Single session therapy is a specific form of therapy conducted by professionals who seek to use their existing skill sets and knowledge base to address clients’ presenting concerns, within one session. The session takes place with the understanding that the session might be the only one. Some of the issues you can discuss include:
Massage therapy consists primarily of hands-on manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, specifically, the muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and joints for the purpose of optimizing health.
Massage therapy treatment has a therapeutic effect on the body and optimizes health and well-being by acting on the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems. Physical function can be developed, maintained and improved; and physical dysfunction and pain and the effects of stress can be relieved or prevented through the use of Massage Therapy.
Shiatsu therapy is a unique, non-invasive manual therapy from Japan that stimulates the body’s inherent ability to heal itself. Literally translated, the word shiatsu means "finger pressure." The therapy involves the systematic application of pressure, using the thumbs primarily, to different points on the soft tissues of the body in order to assess and treat a variety of conditions. Shiatsu treatments have a regulatory influence on the body’s autonomic nervous system, thereby improving organ function and reducing muscle tension.
The Joysanne Sidimus Fund (JSF) is our financial assistance program which helps cover the costs of fees-for-service at The Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre. The fund contributes 75% of the cost of appointments, up to $760, and is available for one year. Applications are assessed based on financial need, medical need and eligibility as a professional artist. You may apply to a second subsidy after using up the first one. After completion of a second subsidy, you must wait 3 years before applying again.
This fund provides
short-term support and cannot be relied upon for ongoing treatment.
The fund may be helpful if you are:
Step 1: Book an intake appointment with our Nurse Practitioner. This appointment is free of charge and can be made by calling The Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre at 416 603 5263.
Step 2: After this appointment, an application form will be sent to you for completion online.
Step 3: Send supporting documents to:
Applications are reviewed once a month. Applications received after each month’s deadline will be reviewed the following month. Upcoming deadlines are:
Art in the Atrium is a monthly performance series organized by the Al and Malka Green Artists' Health Centre. Performances are held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month, in the atrium of Toronto Western Hospital.
If interested in performing for Art in the Atrium, contact Clinic Coordinator Matt Eldridge (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You will be contacted with information about your first appointment.
Please bring the following to your appointment. Not all of these items may be needed for your appointment. Our clinic or your referring doctor will let you know what you must bring.
Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment.
When you arrive, you will sign in with the receptionist. You will need your health card (OHIP card) to sign-in. If you do not have an OHIP card, please bring another form of government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.
You may be given a Measuring Health Equity Questionnaire to fill out. This form contains questions about your background. We collect this information to find out who we serve and what unique needs you may have. The form is voluntary and you can choose ‘prefer not to answer’ to any or all questions. However, the information you choose to give us will help us improve the quality of care for you and others.
First appointments take longer than follow-up appointments. Your first appointment can take 2 hours or more. Follow-up appointments usually take 15 to 30 minutes. We do everything we can to stay on time but sometimes unforeseen circumstances may delay your appointment.
At the end of your first appointment, the nurse or doctor will give you a contact list for your health care team. If you don’t get a contact list, feel free to ask for it.
After every appointment, a member of your health care team will tell you about your next visit. Be sure you understand what is going to happen next. For example, know the time and place of your next visit or if someone will call you with this information.
If you are unsure about what your next steps are, don’t be afraid to ask a member of your team. We are here to help you.
We understand that reaching us by phone can sometimes be difficult. Often our phone lines are busy or are turned over to the message centre so our staff can prepare for clinic visits or help other patients. We make every effort to return your call within 24 hours. Our staff will try to reach you 2 times. If we are not able to reach you directly you may need to call us again.